The mother who brutally murdered her 6-year-old son with a series of shotgun blasts while he was trapped in her car cursed at the court after she was sentenced to life in prison.
Julissa Thaler, 29, who was convicted of murdering her son Eli Hart in May 2022, was sentenced to life without parole by Minneapolis Judge Jay Quam. Hart’s remains were horribly mutilated after the shooting, with police calling it one of the worst things they had ever seen.
“It’s worse, though, when you don’t lose your child to something like cancer or an accident. It’s when someone takes that child from the world. What I can’t imagine — nobody can imagine — is when the person that takes a child from the world is the one that brought that child in,” Quam said
“I’m innocent, f*** you all, you’re garbage,” said Thaler when she was given an opportunity to respond to her sentence. She also gave the court the middle finger.
Thaler’s sister, Nikita Kronberg, who served as Hart’s foster mother starting in January 2021 before Thaler was granted full custody in May 2022, called Thaler a “monster” in a victim impact statement.
Thaler purchased the shotgun soon after Eli’s father, Tory, filed papers asking the court for full custody. She asked a store clerk for ammunition that would “blow the biggest hole” before the murder, and also was found to have conducted an online search with questions such as “how much blood can a 6-year-old lose?” as well as “payment for life insurance if child dies,” “how to commit crime and blame child,” and “what length am I allowed to saw off a shotgun barrel?”’
“During that time, Eli and Tory were able to start a relationship, and their bond was powerful from the start,” Kronberg wrote of her time as Eli’s foster on a GoFundMe page dedicated to paying for the funeral costs. “Eli fell in love with his father and loved spending time with him. Tory was excited to make up for all the lost years and was thrilled to start teaching his son how to fish and ride a bike with no training wheels.”
“At the end of December 2021, Eli returned to his mother’s house for a home trial,” Kronberg continued. “Due to many red flags, Eli’s mother was showing, Tory tried extremely hard to get custody of Eli. Unfortunately, more false Orders of Protection were filed, which postponed custody hearings. Numerous parties made many statements to CPS, fearing that mom would harm Eli if full custody were returned. Sadly full custody was returned on May 10, 2022.”
Eli Hart was 6. His mother is on trial for his murder. Eli’s father told the jury in Hennepin County “..he was everything to me..he completed my life.” Eli’s dad add that he liked bubbles, playing with toy cars, and fishing. @kstp pic.twitter.com/GrSekOUSZ0
— Eric Chaloux (@EricChalouxKSTP) February 3, 2023
An exhausting day of testimony is over in the Julissa Thaler trial. This image may stick with me forever. Little 6-year-old Eli Hart’s backpack was thrown in the trash, his homework still inside. His dad testified that Eli loved going to school. Loved being social. Senseless. pic.twitter.com/O0DQs4JOxh
— Lou Raguse (@LouRaguse) February 3, 2023
The trial was so disturbing that jurors were offered crisis counseling. Prosecutor Dan Allard told jurors they would not see the graphic photos of Eli, who was strapped into his seat in the car when he was repeatedly shot. Allard told the judge, “We are self-editing because I don’t want to see them again. They are horrid. The jury doesn’t want to see them. They are as bad as I’ve seen in any case.”
Tory Hart’s fiancée, Josie Josephson, told Fox 9, “Not only did we express concerns to multiple people, multiple times … every time the response was, ‘This is something for family courts.’ [CPS] said laws do not allow us to address this, unless [they] see physical abuse, [they] have no grounds to remove him from her home.”
Eli Hart’s father Tory Hart filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dakota County in August 2022.
“How could someone do such an evil thing to an amazing, loving kid?” Kronberg stated. “No one will ever know why she did what she did to Eli. We can only assume that it was to keep Tory and Eli away from each other. But this only separated them temporarily. They will be together once again in heaven one day. But we all know she will never be with Eli ever again. … She is going to hell where she belongs.”